• James B. Duke Associate Professor of Asian Studies and History
  • 864.294.3332
  • Furman Hall 200K
  • savita.nair@furman.edu
  •  

Born in India and raised in upstate NY, Nair grew up spending many summers with family in India (Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi). Later, she understood India from a new perspective. Trained as a historian of South Asia, she conducted archival and oral historical research and has done fieldwork in India (Maharashtra and Gujarat) since 1996. She has also worked with Indian communities in East Africa, England, and the US.

She joined Furman in 2003 after teaching at Mount Holyoke College and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, she co-founded, with Dr. Kailash Khandke, Furman’s India study abroad program and has co-directed the 2008, 2009 and 2013 trips. She is a former co-chair of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor. Nair served as the Local Arrangements Chair for the Southeastern Conference of the Association of Asian Studies (SECAAS) hosted by Furman in 2012, and currently is a member of the Executive Committee of SECAAS. With Asian Studies’ faculty, she participated in a 2-week Mellon-funded faculty seminar in Japan in 2004.

Her research focuses on the South Asian diaspora and transnationalism, in particular 19th-20th century migrant networks between India and eastern Africa. Her teaching emphasizes critical histories of ancient and modern India, gender, nationalism, and globalization. She finds great fulfillment in teaching college students about the historical depth and contemporary significance of the world’s second most populous country and world’s largest democracy.

Name Title Description

AST-300

Colloquium

The course allows majors to investigate Asia" as a conceptual and geopolitical space and to critically investigate the discipline. Thus

AST-470

Seminar in Asian Studies

HST-155

Ancient and Early South Asia

Introduction to South Asia from prehistory to the early 16th century. Focus on the transformations of human environments in the Indian subcontinent, such as river-valley settlements, urban development, early state formation, long-distance trade, and mobility. Major themes include: interaction and integration, and diversity of ritual and cultural practices.

HST-156

Modern South Asia

The history of South Asia from the 16th century to present. Focus on Mughal dynasties and Indo-Islamic cultures, European traders and the British imperial projects, multiple resistors to imperial rule, and the creation of and challenges facing postcolonial South Asia.

HST-256

Gender History of South Asia

Questions of gender in colonial and postcolonial South Asia, and its diaspora. Topics include tradition" and "modernity"

HST-475

Senior Seminar in History

A required course for all majors. Discussion-based meetings will explore a specific historical topic and the related historiography. Students will conceive, design, and execute their own research project connected to the main topic of the seminar. All seminars include an assignment encouraging students to integrate and to reflect upon their varied classroom, travel study, and internship experiences over the course of the major.

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • "Letters from Africa: Indian Diaspora and Historical Space, c. 1880-1920," invited presenter on panel "Writing India and the Indian Ocean World" at Connected Histories of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, Alliance to Advance Liberal Arts College/Mellon Foundation, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, February 2012.
  • "Despite the Odds: Uganda Indians Remaking Home and Nation" in panel "Negotiating Nationhood: The South Asian Diaspora in Post-Colonial East Africa," Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Honolulu, HI, April 2011.
  • "Indian Emigration to Africa, Trinidad, Guyana, and the Pacific, 1750-1914" and "Cultural Integration in Eastern Africa" in World History Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, March 2011.
  • "Understanding East Africa: Gujaratis in Indian History" in panel "Asia through the Lens of Geography" at the Southeast Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, January 2011.
  • "Shops and Stations: Rethinking Privilege and Power in British/Indian East Africa" in Africa in India, India in Africa: Indian Ocean Cosmopolitanisms, edited by John C. Hawley, 77-93 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).
  • "Diaspora: Africa" in South Asian Folklore, edited by Peter Claus and Margaret Mills (New York: Routledge, 2003).
  • Awarded the James B. Duke Chair in Asian Studies, 2014
  • Alester G. Jr. and Janie Earle Furman Meritorious Teaching Award, 2014.
  • Alester G. Jr. and Janie Earle Furman Meritorious Advising Award, 2009.
  • Furman University Research and Professional Growth Grants (Uganda-2005, India-2006, Hawaii-2011, California-2012).
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Cluster Grant Proposal, contributor, "Visual Cultures in India," with Denison University, Summer 2009.
  • Furman/Mellon Career Advance Planning Grant, Fall 2006.
  • Furman Advantage Teaching Fellow 2005, 2012, 2013.
  • Furman Advantage Research Fellowship Program, Student Research Assistant, Summer 2006.
  • Andrew W. Mellon funded Tri-Consortial Project (with Associated Colleges of the South), Global Partners in East Africa Travel Grant, fully funded 2005.
Education
Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
M.A.
University of Pennsylvania
B.S.
Carnegie Mellon University

Connect with Admission

Furman University is one of the nation's premier undergraduate liberal arts colleges. We offer outstanding academics, opportunities for a broad range of talented students with a passion for learning, a robust arts program, and NCAA Division I athletics.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • 50th Anniversary of Desegregation at Furman
  • Furman University